Sunday, July 26, 2009

High Quality Care Costs More

One of the issues "health care reformists" don't like to discuss is the fact that the speed and efficiency of our system contributes to the cost. This is a different way of attacking the argument about rationing and long waits. Simply put, (A)s health care quality rises, costs go up.

the fight against heart disease has been slow and incremental. It's also been extremely expensive and wildly successful.

In the 1960s, the chance of dying in the days immediately after a heart attack was 30 to 40 percent. In 1975, it was 27 percent. In 1984, it was 19 percent. In 1994, it was about 10 percent. Today, it's about 6 percent.

Over the same period, the charges for treating a heart attack marched steadily upward, from about $5,700 in 1977 to $54,400 in 2007 (without adjusting for inflation).

Why so much? Because today, as opposed to the 1960s, a person having a heart attack receives drugs and treatments which are highly effective but costly. That means far more people who have heart attacks outlive them.

And, more to the point, the more people are covered by insurance (or Obamacare), the more the costs will go up because more people will receive these treatments. Americans, used to beta blockers, angioplasties, stents and so on, will not be willing to go back to the days of chewing on asprins and dying less than a year after the heart attack.

It's no wonder, then, that the Obama administration is trying to bully the CBO for having the audacity to tell the truth about Obamacare. Such executive overreach is frightening and dangerous, though, because someone needs to keep this administration honest.